‘Grace Farms Continues To Flout the Restrictions It Agreed To’: Concerns Persist As New Filing Nears


Grace Farms has failed to comply with temporary measures imposed by the town while the organization prepares a new application to amend its zoning permit, according to representatives for two sets of direct neighbors.

While the town planner has worked hard to help Grace prepare a more appropriate application than what had been filed in the fall (and later withdrawn, after a consultant found it problematic), and also has tried to address neighbors’ concerns, the latter “remain troubled by Grace Farms’ lack of transparency and lack of accountability,” a Darien-based attorney representing the owners of two abutting residences said in a March 3 letter to Planning & Zoning.

“While the neighbors would like to be able to work with Grace Farms, it is challenging to do so when Grace Farms refuses to communicate with the [neighbors] or their attorneys and when Grace Farms continues to flout the restrictions it agreed to at the end of January,” attorney Amy Zabetakis of Rucci Law Group said in a letter sent to Town Attorney Steve Palmer and obtained by NewCanaanite.com.

Specifically, according to the letter, Grace has failed to comply with measures designed to reduce lighting through the night, to halt for now the scheduling of new evening activities and the scheduling of new “space grants” beyond what already is booked.

For example, lights at the “River Building” have been left on all night (apart from one Tuesday night when they went off at 1:30 a.m.), when other than the basketball court they were to be turned off no later than 8:30 p.m. (and the court itself no later than 9:30 p.m.).

“There is simply no excuse for Grace Farms’ continued violation of this very simple condition of the Existing Special Permit,” the letter said. It was filed on behalf of the Ostlings, as well as the Curt-Bissonnettes.

Officials from Grace could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Despite Grace Farms’ promises to abide by these temporary interim measures and the Town’s request for data on all day and evening events along with anticipated attendees, large and small events and activities continue to take place at Grace Farms six days a week along with the property being open to the public,” the letter said. “It is rare for the parking lot adjacent to [one neighbor’s] property to be empty. The cumulative impact of these events, activities and the sheer volume of people involved continues to have a serious negative impact on the Neighbors’ privacy, sense of security and property values.”

The letter comes as Grace Farms prepares next week to file a new application to amend its zoning permit.

Open to the public since October 2015, Grace Farms ran into difficulties last May when town officials flagged activities at its Lukes Wood Road campus that appeared to run afoul of its permitted uses—a suspicion validated the following month by the town planner at the time.

After Grace Farms withdrew its first application, neighbors urged the town to require that the organization restrict use of its property while the next one was pending. Citing “outstanding violations” of its existing permit, Palmer in January instructed Grace Farms to stop booking new events on its campus and provide details of all activities planned for the next six months. Grace also was to address problems associated with lighting, noise and its trail network—but has not done so, according to the letter.

“We remain concerned that Grace Farms will continue – as they did during the hearing in 2013—to say one thing and then act as if the rules that apply to every property owner in New Canaan do not apply to them,” Zabetakis wrote. “We would like to be able to work with Grace Farms toward a resolution of the Neighbor’s concerns, however, it is challenging to do so when Grace Farms does not appear to be willing or able to follow through on the promises that they make.”

One thought on “‘Grace Farms Continues To Flout the Restrictions It Agreed To’: Concerns Persist As New Filing Nears

  1. Having been by the grace property at night—I get more light pollution from my neighbors. While certainly a large structure the neighbors bar of what they want and expect from Grace seems high especially since the other possible uses of the property could have been much more dense. Maybe the neighbors are just requesting to much non usage of the property from grace. It is 4 acres of use out Of 80

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